Nice looking bike, right? I rented this beautiful blue motorcycle in the volcanic (lake) island of Ometepe here in Nicaragua. Sure, it looks nice. But looks – as you’ll soon find out – can be deceiving.
I was a bit hesitant and nervous about getting the bike so, when the first guy tried renting to me, I told him, “no” and kept my options open. After I stepped off the ferry and slowly walked into town on the volcano island of Ometepe, there were many more people offering taxis, scooters, and motorcycles. I knew that if I said yes right away, I’d likely get less of a deal and, perhaps even worse, could get scammed. So I walked on.
A young Nicaraguan woman passed by on a scooter and offered her services – for motorcycle and scooter rentals. I once again reflexively told her no. But she came back to me and started explaining about how the rentals work and told me it would be $30 per day. I told her that someone already offered me $20 and I kept walking. She persisted and agreed to $20 per day and the deal was in the works.
I paid for 2 days along with a $100 deposit and I was off with a nice little blue dirt bike. I soon noticed that the bike wasn’t running optimally. As I gassed it and the RPMs climbed, the engine struggled and I reactively let off the gas. Then, as I was climbing up a gentle incline, the engine cut out completely.
I knew this wasn’t good and I wasn’t sure what to do. In my experience riding motorcycles over the years, this usually meant that I simply forgot to open the valve on the gas tank. But I had already checked that when I left. So what could it be? I downshifted and let out on the clutch and, without stopping, the bike started back up. Whew, close call!
At this point I was thinking that maybe that was just a little hiccup and I’d be good to go. But I wasn’t so fortunate. As the climb steepened ever so slightly, the motorcycle cut out again and this time I couldn’t start it back up. Luckily, with the 90+ degree heat, there was a large tree next to the road where I was able to take cover from the scorching sun.
Yes indeed, looks can be deceiving.
I took a few minutes to contemplate my situation. I finished the rest of my coffee (that was non-bulletproof, but with MCT oil), drank some water, and decided that cruising on a motorcycle around this beautiful island simply wasn’t meant to be. I decided I was going to return the bike and get my money back.
I tried starting the bike a few times and a it seemed like it was going to go, thus giving me a sliver of hope, but then…nothing. I waited a few more minutes and finally, it started! But how long would it last?
Thankfully I made it back to town and patiently waited at the rental office as they worked with other customers. I was tempted to let the customers know what happened to me but I decided that wouldn’t help their business and wouldn’t help me get my refund.
To make a long-ish story less long, my worldview and perception of customer service did not match theirs. They flat out refused to give me a refund saying that I had signed a contract and, well, that was that. What really made me mad was when the guy told me he overlooked checking the oil (which was likely the cause of the problem) because I was in a hurry. Fuck that. Err, I mean, I disagreed. I was never in a hurry. I know better – especially in places like this. I suppose I should have known to do basic checks for maintenance on the bike as well.
There’s more to the story but I’ll spare you the potentially boring details…Anyway, I’m off and running again on a shiny red motorcycle that is in much better condition.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering… The motorbike riding around the island volcanos is truly awe-inspiring. And the beach where I’m hanging out isn’t so bad:
What do you think about this? Any similar experiences?